There's nothing quite like the idea of camping out and falling asleep under the stars, listening to the sounds of wilderness and different animals as you drift off. In reality, no shelter at night means tons of bug bites, freezing temperatures and high winds with nothing to contain your body heat, and exposure to terrible weather like torrential downpours and snow flurries. Though these difficulties do come with spending time outdoors, you can sleep protected from the elements while still enjoying the outdoors. How? By choosing a great tent brand.
Here are some frequently asked question answered about how to find the best tent for you...
When buying a tent, buyers need to think about what types of weather the tent is going to be used for. Often times, tents are made for warmer weather but don't explicitly state this on the label. If your plans might take you camping in the winter, then consider looking for a tent that is specifically designed to withstand high winds, snow and sleet, and cold temperatures.
Winter tents are often more durable and hold heat in better. Similarly, if your plans might take you camping in the summer, look for a tent with a rain fly. In inclement weather, the rain fly will prevent you and your gear from being drenched. In great weather, you can still look up at the night sky without worrying about waking up with mosquito bites. There are also tents that perform for all weather, but take into consideration what you might need, first.
Quite a straightforward question. If you are a solo hiker, then you will probably want to opt for a single person tent (or maybe a two person tent if you like a bit of extra space). Yet, if you have a family with five little ones running around, you'll want something a little roomier.
We’ve grouped together all tents that can fit three people or less into our backpacking tent category. Our Camping Tents reviews cover tents that hold four or more people. This may seem like a somewhat arbitrary split, but our reasons are given in our next topic below.
If you might be planning on camping only at campgrounds and plan on bringing all of your gear in a vehicle, then any tent that you choose may work for you. However, those who are planning on going backpacking or hiking to their campsite may experience some difficulty with heavier tents.
The heavier a tent, the more it will weigh down a backpack. Larger tents may also take up more space. When searching for the best tent for you, definitely consider how you plan on traveling to your campsite. If backpacking is a favored option, also plan on buying a tent with a very sturdy bottom that can withstand cold temperatures and rocks, since areas not in a campground will not be well maintained.
Tent poles hold up the tent fabric and create the structure of the tent so that it doesn't fall down or succumb to the wind. When looking at tent poles, you might want to keep in consideration where you are planning to camp and what types of weather you might camp in.
Aluminum tent poles are much stronger than carbon composite or fiberglass poles. Durability is a major factor in tent poles if you might plan on camping in high wind areas. However, aluminum tent poles are often more expensive and are much heavier than other types of poles. This means that backpacking with aluminum tent poles might be difficult if you plan on traveling far. Though, if you are taking a shorter hiking trip, the aluminum poles compensate for the slight weight difference in their durability.
A critical feature when buying a tent is the fabric that the tent is made from. Tents can be made from many different types of material, and some are constructed from cheap nylon that rips easily and feels thin. This causes uncomfortableness, susceptibility to rain and moisture, and it can tear if anything pushes up against the tent poles and creates tension.
Rip-stop nylon fabric is a better alternative to cheaper tent fabrics and will keep you safe, warm, and dry while you are camping. Rip-stop nylon is an excellent option for families with little ones that may not be so careful. This type of fabric can endure shoes in the tent, pushing on the tent poles, and even harsh rain and winds.
When you look at tent fabrics, you should also look for a tent that features material reinforcement. This means that all stress points (that points that are pushed on the most, like the tent poles or the tent opening) are reinforced, and the material is at least four layers thick. When your tent material has multiple layers, it becomes stronger against tears.
A super durable rainfly is essential to any decent tent. Most rainflys are removable, which means that you can take them right off of the tent and store them away while you look up at the stars. Roof-only styles won't have this option and will either just have a tent roof, or won't have an easily removable piece to take off to enjoy the outdoors.
Additionally, removable rainflys allow some breathing room. Underneath the rainfly, there is usually a mesh vent that allows you to bring fresh air into the tent. Roof-only styles also are more susceptible to rain and moisture leaking inside the tent. In these styles, the rain drips down the side of the tent and at the base perimeter. Then, the corners and bottom of the tent can soak in the rain and will cause the bottom of the tent to flood. This is a terrible situation to be caught in.
A good tent is going to have straps everywhere for easy assembly and easy living. Some examples include hold back straps for windows and the door, loop straps for the tent poles, and guy lines. If there is any part of your tent that can be open or tied, it should have some hold-back or loop strap for reinforcement. This prevents accidents, like the tent poles coming undone and flying away or the tent fabric from separating from the tent poles and falling in on the tent in the middle of the night.
Additionally, this feature will help campers if any rips or tears do occur while camping, such as a small tear in the tent door zipper. A strap should be installed in that section to reinforce the door, so there aren't any worries about the material flying open.
Many good tents offer accessory pockets on the sides of the tent or at the very top. You can store things in these pockets so that they are easily accessible. This for lighter items like matches, a flashlight, your wallet, or a good book. Some tents even come with a pocket/strap option for your lantern so that it can be tied to the top of the tent. As long as you don't have a too heavy lantern, you could hang it up in the tent and won't need to worry about navigating in the dark.
Mountain Safety Research's slogan is, "the idea that better, safer, more reliable equipment is the key to unlocking greater adventures". As their slogan suggest, Mountain Safety Research has been creating reliable tents for all kinds of weather since the 1960s.
MSR's products are made to last and are designed to withstand the environments of mountains, harsh terrain areas, and the dreams of backpackers. MSR's variety of tents makes their company well known; they sell all season tents, backpacking tents, minimalist shelters, and gear tents.
MSR is known for their tent's ability to withstand freezing temperatures but still function well in the middle of the summer. While their tents can be quite expensive, there are a few affordable models that would be suitable for everyday camping such as the MSR Hubba Hubba NX. However, if you might be in the market for a tent for backpacking or mountain environments, this is one company to look into.
Kodiak Canvas Tent Company has been in business for ten years and was born in the rugged Rockies. Though Kodiak has not been in business long, they have created a name for themselves for making some of the best quality tents on the market. Their tents are reliable and comfortable and suit almost any need; all of their tents will protect you from the elements.
Kodiak's specially invented Hydra-shied canvas makes their tents unique and provides a breathability and air flow that most other tents don't have. Additionally, Kodiak tents are quality made and are made to last for a very long time. These tents will likely outlive anything you would buy at a department store and are made with a canvas that is not easily susceptible to common rips and tears. The best thing about Kodiak tents? All tents come with a limited lifetime warranty to ensure their customer's happiness and that the tents function well.
Coleman is a great family company that produces outdoor products and has been in business for over 100 years. Coleman also has 7 out of 10 of the best selling tents on Amazon and continually rates ridiculously well on leaderboards measuring quality of outdoor gear.
Coleman creates fun and versatile styles of tents that can be used for many different situations. Their "Hooligan Tent" is a cool option that not only sleeps four people but can also function as the perfect spot to watch rain falls without getting wet.
Another interesting option are Coleman's cabin tents which can fit up to 9 people. Coleman tents are known for their rain flys, which come with nearly every one of their tents. Additionally, Coleman also features a diverse price range for every type of customer budget and are specifically known for making large family tents.
Big Agnes is an outdoor company that has been giving customers great quality gear for over fifteen years. Their motto says, "life is too short to use bad camping gear." So, Big Agnes provides the best camping gear for their customers and has specially designed equipment to fit individual needs.
Big Agnes' tents are designed to focus on maximizing space and comfort while weighing the least amount possible to make a great experience for campers. Big Agnes also tries to create tents that are easily constructed for quick assembly. They have many different categories of tents to fit any one of their customer's needs and can be found at affordable price points and cool colors.
One such example is the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 which features a cool color, lots of head room, and an ultra light weight for traveling and is our top rated backpacking tent.
The Copper Spur is our top rated lightweight backpacking tent. Read the review here...
Kelty manufactures tents, along with other outdoor gear such as sleeping bags, and is owned by Exxcel Outdoors, LLC. Kelty is based in Boulder, Colorado and was first established in 1919 when the owner and founder Asher "Dick" Kelty created an outdoor backpack.
Kelty is credited with later creating the first aluminum backpack. Known for their good quality and affordability, Kelty tents keep backpacking and great camping in mind. Kelty also makes a wide variety of tents for different experiences including their models, Mirada, Outback, and TN2. This variety ensures that any camper with a need for a tent can find something within Kelty's collection. Most of their tents come with a star-gazing removable rain fly ability and fly vents that keep out even the smallest gnats.
Recreational Equipment, Incorporated (REI) is an outdoor company established in 1938. They have many award-winning outdoor products (including tents), and also spend millions of dollars each year donating money to the environment. Their positive cause and durable gear make them a great contender when searching for the best tent.
REI manufactures and sells many different styles of tents, including their Tepui Tents which fit over a car for easy camping while traveling. REI makes and sells all kinds of tents for various walks of life. REI is also specifically known for making great tents at an affordable price.
While some of their specialized tents (like the Tepui Tent) can be quite expensive and range over $1000, many of the tents that they make are affordable and durable, like the six person REI Kingdom 6. This makes REI a great option for those who don't want to spend a boatload of money while trying out camping for the first time.
The REI Kingdom 6 is one of the more affordable family tents on the market. Read the review here...
Hilleburg, the tent maker, is a company that is entirely family-owned and manufactures tents of high quality that are super light weight. This Swedish tent making company was founded in the 1970s by Bo and Renate Hilleburg. Since then, the company has remained in family hands by passing on the business to their children.
Their products are well known for expeditions and adventures that take place in harsh locations such as Antarctica. Their production focuses on specialized high-end lightweight tents.
Reputation proceeds Hilleburg, and they are well known for their tent's excellent quality, durability, and despite the high price point are considered excellent value for money. Their tents also feature twin skin designs, something that is not offered in many other tents on the market. The Nallo ultra light tent and Atko single hoop tent are some of their best sellers and offer campers something unique that cannot be found at other tent making companies.
North Face is an American company that sells all different types of outdoor gear. The company was originally founded in San Francisco in the 1960s by Douglas Thompkins and his wife. It was sold two years later, but North Face's mission has remained the same: to provide gear for the north face of a mountain.
The north face is the coldest area on a mountain in the northern hemisphere and generally the iciest, most difficult path to climb. North Face is still located in California but has gained popularity since it's foundation in the 1960s.
While backpacks and outfitting seem to be North Face's most popular product lines, their tents are also a great product for cold weather. North Face's tents are designed for 1-4 people. While their tents are not designed to hold more than four people, they can outstand crazy temperatures while still looking cool with their neat designs. Models such as North Face's Stormbreak 2 have gained popularity, as the company has expanded into tent manufacturing.
The Stormbreak is one of the most affordable 2 person backpacking tents on the market. Read the review here...
Backpacking Tents tend to be lightweight and pack down small, making them extremely portable. Any experienced hiker will tell you that while a pound of weight may not seem like much, but when you are carrying it on your back all day, the fewer pounds you carry, the bigger your smile at the end of the day.
The trade-off with backpacking tents are usually their compact nature (they’re typically built for one to three persons) and their lightweight materials can be a touch more delicate. We’ve reviewed a range of backpacking tents here and in our opinion the best all round pick is the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2.
If you are looking for a bit more room (typically for four or more people), then a camping tent may be more suited to your needs These tents are larger and usually are made from heavier duty materials which does, of course, increase their weight. However, if you are only transporting them by hand a short distance i.e. from the car, a few hundred meters (or less) to the campsite then they may be the perfect choice.
You can check our selection of 6 person camping tents for some ideas on your perfect choice.